Congrats! - You made it!
Whether you’re graduating high school, college or graduate school, there’s lots to celebrate. You worked hard to get here, spending years studying for exams and writing research papers to reach this goal.
All you want to do is celebrate this milestone with friends near and far! And why shouldn't you? This is an amazing accomplishment, worthy of shouting the news from the mountain tops. Scammers are ready to celebrate with you by stealing information from your posts and photos online in the latest trend, the Grad Photo Scam.
How Grad Photo Scams play out
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning this year’s graduates not to post their senior pictures on any public social media platforms. Scammers and hackers, are surfing these sites, looking for new targets. They may search for popular hashtags, such as #Classof2021, or #grad21 to find what they need. When they see a grad photo with a year and the name of a school, they can take this information and look up more details about the person, or even hack into private accounts.
The BBB warns graduates to be careful even when sharing photos with trusted friends.
While it may seem like you’re only sharing a photo with your friends, they can reshare it with another friend, who can reshare it with another, and before you know it, your photo may be shared with thousands of people you don’t even know.
There are also lots of trending contests for graduates that can be used to help scammers in their work. In these contests, graduates are asked to share their senior portrait along with a list of favorites, such as their favorite songs or music artist, cars they’ve owned, or the names of their best friends - all commonly used answers for security questions. This information can also be seen by scammers and used for identity theft.
How to avoid Grad Photo Scams
The BBB offers the following tips to help graduates and others keep safe on social media:
- Only share your graduate photos privately with friends. Be careful not to post your photo on any public forum and to ask your friends not to share it with others.
- Don’t join any grad photo contests that compromise your privacy. You can read others’ responses, but don’t participate in a contest that may be unsafe.
- Review and adjust your security settings. Make sure the security settings on your devices are updated to the latest versions and adjusted to the strongest settings. Similarly, keep your social media settings private and secure.
- Consider changing your passwords and security questions. If you believe you may have unknowingly shared sensitive information with scammers, mitigate any possible fallout by changing the passwords on your accounts, as well as the security questions used to access the codes.
If you find evidence of fraud, let your credit union know as soon as possible so it can place a fraud alert on your accounts. It’s also a good idea to report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.
Graduation is a super-exciting milestone and achievement. Unfortunately, though, scammers are exploiting this life event to access sensitive information, which can be used to crack open accounts and pull off identity theft. Follow the tips outlined above and stay safe!
Together, we can beat the scammers at their game and protect your accounts and your money. If you feel you have become a victim of fraud or have questions or concerns about your account, call us at 317.352.0455. To learn more about fraud prevention and recovery services available to Harvester Financial members, please visit our website. Stay safe!